Hottest Stone Veneer Basement Remodeling Trends of 2018

Hottest Stone Veneer Basement Remodeling Trends of 2018

Stone Interior Stone Veneer

How many times have you ventured down to your home’s drab cluttered basement and envisioned it as being more than just a catch-all storage or laundry area?  Most homeowners under utilize their basements, and any seasoned realtor will tell you that creating more living space with a basement remodel adds resale value to your home and makes it more attractive to potential buyers.  To assist your efforts,manufactured stone veneer is one of the most popular and cost-effective basement remodeling construction materials available today.  That’s because decorative stone veneer looks great, installs easily and holds up well.  With that in mind, here are some popular basement remodeling trends for 2018 that look even hotter highlighted with stone veneer.


Stone Veneer


“Wow”Your Guests with a Basement Multipurpose Room

We all enjoy having friends and family over for game night, watching a movie or just sharing some good food and laughs.  A basement remodel is a perfect way to create an inviting and spacious multipurpose entertainment area for all ages.  To begin, conceptualize how you want to maximize your new room’s potential.  For example, multipurpose uses may include a:

  • Man cave for the guys to hang out
  • Home theater or television viewing area
  • Game room for pool, darts and cards
  • Music listening room even topped off with a stage
  • Living room for mom to enjoy with her friends
  • Play room for the kids


Stone Veneer


Then start visualizing the room’s layout, color scheme, flooring, ceiling and lighting preferences.  Manufactured stone veneer can be added as an attractive decorative touch that accentuates structures no matter which of the above multipurpose applications you decide to go with.  Homeowners routinely use faux stone as an elegant final touch for multipurpose room features like:

  • Fireplaces
  • Bar fronts or a back wall behind the bar
  • On side walls, dividers or around doorways
  • Framing a wine cellar


Stone Veneer


In the end, renovating your home’s basement into a guest-wowing space will give you more entertaining flexibility and boost resale value when it’s time to sell.

Workout Any time in Your Basement Fitness Area

Many of us like to work out, but gyms can be pricey, packed and involve travel to and from.

Wouldn’t it be great instead to walk downstairs into your very own basement fitness center?  Remodeling part of your basement into a workout area also means not having to wait on fitness machines, watching your favorite television show without all that noise, and that a fridge is always nearby.  If the remodeled area is large enough, you can also add a massage table or sauna for post-workout cool downs.  Decorative stone veneer makes a great addition to any basement fitness room by highlighting its walls, doorways and other areas.  In fact, the faux stone may look so luxurious that you’ll think that you’re working out at an upscale fitness club instead of in your own home!


Stone Veneer


Convert Basement Space into a Cozy Guest Bedroom

Do parents, in-laws or other house guests frequently come to stay and you’re embarrassed to have them sleep on that torture rack doubling as a foldout couch?  Converting part of your wasted basement space into a cozy guest bedroom always works.  And adding another finished bedroom assuredly boosts your home’s market value.  If you’re really feeling ambitious and have it within your budget, add a breakfast nook, kitchenette, extra bathroom or fireplace to make the area feel even more like home.  Along the way, decorative stone veneer will add warmth and elegance to all these bedroom remodeling ideas.

Hot Basement Remodels Look Better with Stone Veneer!


Stone Veneer


There you have it; the hottest basement remodeling ideas of 2018.  All will provide you with more living space while increasing your home’s value.  Manufactured stone veneer has become a very popular addition to any basement renovation project because it’s easy-to-use, looks great, is cost-effective and simple to maintain.  At North Star Stone, we specialize in a wide-variety of decorative stone veneer products.  We’ve had the pleasure of assisting numerous homeowners around the Chicago land area with their basement remodels and the transformative outcomes proudly speak for themselves.  To learn more about hot basement remodeling ideas, or how our manufactured interior and exterior stone veneer products could be used on your next project, visit now.

My DIY Stone Veneer Fireplace Project

My DIY Stone Veneer Fireplace Project

Stone Fireplace Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

A wonderful customer took the time to share his experience with DIY stone veneer installation. He took the time to write up his experience of updating his stone fireplace with stone veneer to share with our website visitors and customers and we couldn’t be more impressed with the end results! 

Here is Tim’s story of his DIY stone veneer installation in his Georgia Mountain home and the gorgeous Stone Veneer Fireplace he created!

We have a log cabin in the north Georgia mountains. It originally had a builder-grade wood surround on the fireplace, but what could be better in a log cabin than a stacked stone fireplace?


Stone Fire Places


I’ve done my share of remodeling projects,but I had not done stone masonry work before this. Perhaps like you, I watched a lot of YouTube videos on the subject and decided it was a project I could tackle. My plan was to do a floor-to-ceiling stone veneer to accommodate the existing firebox that is flush with the log wall. My photos don’t show it, but the room’s floor is hardwood except for in front of the fireplace, which is now slate tile in a 6’ x 30’ area. This makes that side of the room feel like a fireplace space, but there is no hearth. This saved me from needing hearth cap stones and simplified the overall stone install project.


My online search for materials brought me to NorthStar Stone.I talked through my project with Alan, hearing about the stone options and how NorthStar makes them to color specifications. Not being in the showroom, I selected my product based on the samples on the website and queued up my order. I felt like the cost of the material was such a good deal that the shipping cost to me in Georgia was worth it. I could tell that Alan was determined that my product met their high-quality standards on color accuracy and he followed up to ensure that shipping went as it should. I will say to buyers who might be hesitant to purchase something like this online, it isn’t an automatic, anonymous process. Being able to speak with a specialist and get hands-on attention for exactly what my project needed made me feel like I was making the right purchase, just as if I had bought it locally.


After a lot of researching, I went with Laticrete’s MVIS Hi-Bond Veneer Mortar for the install mortar and grout between the stones. This ended up being a somewhat difficult product to track down here but may be more readily available in other parts of the country. I will say that it worked great, bonding even the heaviest of the stones very easily. It’s also lighter and doesn’t have the gravel of cheap big box store mortar.


For the mantle, I wanted something that looked like a rustic beam, but I didn’t want a 50 lb. slab, and I also needed more light in the fireplace area. I decided to build a hollow box version out of cedar and included flush-fitting LED lights so that I could get a nice light effect across the stones without having to install lights in the ceiling. Given that the cabin walls are solid log, I ran the power up from the basement via a small groove behind the Durock cement board and included the light switch and an outlet in the beam as well. Once it was mounted on a cleat and had the stone installed around it, the resulting look was the beefy beam I was going for (without the weight of a solid beam or the need to mount lights elsewhere). The lights are spring-load mounted – should I ever need to swap one or get to their wiring, I have multiple access points.

Stone Fireplace

With all of the stone materials in place, Durock on the wall and the mantle installed, I got started on the stone work. I laid out the material on the floor as a guide for install – this worked great for about the first 2/3 of the process. As I got further up I found that I was adjusting positioning on the fly to get the best mix of stone sizes and to account for where they needed to be cut.

Stone Veneer for fireplaces



For cutting,I used a 4.5” diamond blade on my angle grinder. I was actually surprised how easily the stone material cut, and then used the grinder to make the cut edges less perfect for blending with other stone. Given that the install is a “flat fireplace” (i.e. no corners or extended depth), I used uncut stones on both sides and worked to the middle, putting the cut stones in varying middle places so that when you look at the final product from either side you only see factory stone edges. It also worked in my favor that my log walls have a lot of imperfections and variation, so any variation in the edge where the stone meets the logs adds to the rustic look.

Stone Fireplaces



I used a traditional “squeeze” grout bag to put the mortar between the stones. The particular mortar I used being so quick to dry ended up translating to only mixing about a grout bag or two at a time, but once I figured out the right mix for this (i.e. thinker than I expected), it went pretty well.


Stone Veneer Fireplace


Stone Fireplaces

The stone install portion of the effort (including the grouting) was about 20 hours spread out over several days. I would imagine that the pros can do this project a lot faster and if I was to do it again, I could as well. My pacing was based more on tinkering with the mortar mix and resting as I went, so others might have different timeframes. I’m pretty happy with the results and it’s always great to be able to add a new “I built that” to my list of projects. Hopefully my photos and story are useful to you – if you’re a DIYer who’s able to plan, prep for, cut and lay floor tile, you should be able to do this too, with help from Alan and NorthStar Stone.


Tim Brammer

Beautiful Illinois Home Uses Stone Veneer to Help Gain LEED Certification

Beautiful Illinois Home Uses Stone Veneer to Help Gain LEED Certification

eco-friendly-homes LEED Stone Veneer

Brick and stone veneer are nothing new to the world of architecture and construction. They are attractive, durable, and don’t come with the same hefty price tag as a traditional, full sized stone or brick.

And, in the instance of this beautiful new home in Evanston, Illinois, their use marks achieving a standard of sustainability measured by the popular certification program, LEED. These are no ordinary stone veneers. They are entirely man-made, which gives them several important qualities that do well to promote environmentally friendly design.

This article aims to examine this stunning work of residential construction, and answer a few fundamental questions about LEED. What is it? Why is it Important? And how do things like sourcing local, sustainable materials make an impact on the environment?

Leed Stone VeneerLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

LEED isn’t the only sustainability certification program in the design and construction industry, but it’s become the most ubiquitous. It began development in 1993 by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as an avenue for setting green building standards for architects, engineers, builders, material suppliers, and developers.

Few things affect the health of our planet more than the things we build. From design and construction to maintenance and upkeep, the embedded energy in the constructed world contributes to a host of environmental issues that architects, engineers, and legislators are responsible for addressing in an attempt to slow our impact on the planet and preserve it for generations to come.

LEED was designed to do just that.

The program is in a constant state of development – always adjusting to our ever-changing understanding of environmental impact and protection. While the intricacies and details of the criteria are complex, projects can earn credits for such things as using low-VOC paints and materials, insulating past code requirements, specifying energy efficient HVAC systems and appliances, and other design related issues such as solar orientation and water conservation.

Depending on how many credits a project earns in accordance with the building type, it will be awarded a silver, gold, or platinum designation.

However, for everything LEED does to set a project up for environmental success, it’s still up to the design and construction team to focus those efforts into something that is beautiful, comfortable, and functional.

The LEED Home Made With Stone Veneer

That brings us to Evanston, Illinois first ever LEED Platinum certified home. The home, which is currently undergoing construction and knee-deep in the certification process, is as architecturally interesting as it is sustainable. It is organized as an ‘H’ shape in plan and wraps around several exterior courtyards. The design focuses on energy efficiency, water conservation, and utilizing materials that reinforce its commitment to sustainability.

One of those primary materials is an exterior stone veneer product that has several embedded qualities that help the project earn valuable LEED credits.

The stone veneer used in this project, our stone veneer,  is entirely man-made. Ironically, it’s this very fact that made it such an appropriate and sustainable stone siding material for this home. It’s manufactured using significantly less water than natural stone, which requires a massive amount for the cutting and shaping process. Furthermore, the manufacturing facility is located in the nearby northern Indiana, earning LEED credits for proximity to the job site.

Our stone veneer helps the project achieve its status as a leader in sustainability, yes, but it also gives the home a unique, natural look in places its applied. The stone veneer product can be applied to the exterior, where it will last as long as the structure does, or the interior as fireplace stone or perhaps an attractive accent wall.

The versatility of the stone veneer allows architects and builders to be creative with a product that is also inherently sustainable. And better yet, it comes with an affordable price tag that will ensure it doesn’t get value engineered out of the project.

The Future of Building Materials

The construction materials industry is currently undergoing a massive shift in the way products are manufactured, delivered, and even installed. People today are aware of how important protecting the environment has become, and value sustainability in home building more than ever.

And when clients and home-buyers universally begin to value something, the industry responds. Sustainably manufactured exterior stone veneers are just the beginning of a story that includes a wide variety of eco-friendly, ‘green’ products. They are not only getting more and more affordable, they are easy to source no matter where you happen to be building your new home.

And more than that, a responsibility has been bestowed upon architects and engineers to take sustainability into their own hands, in part by developing relationships with vendors and product manufacturers to get the most out of the material specifications for their jobs. And whether you’re cladding an entire building in exterior stone or simply renovating a stone fireplace, there are small choices to be made that can have a massive impact on the built world.

This home in Evanston, Illinois provides a beacon that future residential projects can look to for eco-friendly inspiration. It masterfully blends architectural innovation with environmental engineering, wrapped in a package that expresses its most choice material specifications. It gives meaning to its place, and provides the home owners with a comfortable place to live that pays the ultimate respect to the environment. North Star Stone was proud to be a part of this LEED project, and looks forward to many more down the road. If you’re in the process of building a LEED certified home, stone veneer is a perfect choice for your home’s stone fireplace, siding and so many other parts of the home. Get a free, fast estimate for your stone veneer here.

What Donating Custom Stone Veneer Taught Our Company About Habitat for Humanity

What Donating Custom Stone Veneer Taught Our Company About Habitat for Humanity

Stone Fireplace Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

At North Star Stone, we recently donated some of our fine custom stone veneer products to the Lake County chapter of Habitat for Humanity.  And although many readers have heard of this fine organization, some may be unaware of how exactly Habitat for Humanity operates in an effort to provide affordable and safe housing.  North Star Stone’s new partnership with Habitat has opened our eyes regarding the scope and impact of their efforts not only in the Chicagoland area, but around the world.  Now we’d like to share some of the information that we’ve learned along the way.

Habitat for Humanity’s History & Mission

Habitat for Humanity International is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization that was started in 1976 by co-founders Millard and Linda Fuller.  Based in Americus, GA, the group’s mission is built upon the principle that every person deserves a decent place to live.  Since its inception, Habitat’s philosophy has been to engage in “partnership housing”, a concept focused on using teams of skilled volunteers working together in an effort to provide reliable and affordable shelter for families.  Habitat projects also include renovations, repairs and improvements to existing properties within a community.

Homes built by Habitat for Humanity’s thousands of volunteers and paid employees are done so without a profit motive.  In addition, the organization partners with mortgage lenders to obtain zero-interest loans for those they assist.  Habitat also operates The Fund for Humanity, which receives money from their ReStores, online merchandise sales, mortgage payments and cash donations to continuously finance more homes for those in need.  Today, houses built by the caring hands of Habitat volunteers provide shelter for nearly 10 million family members in 70 countries and 1400 communities worldwide.

How does a Habitat Home Get Built Using Stone Veneer?

There are several different factors that all come together to produce just one Habitat home.  For prospective new homeowners, there’s a non-discriminatory application process whereby the selection criteria varies from community to community.  It involves these steps:

  • The applicant must show a specific level of financial need.
  • An applicant must have a willingness to partner with Habitat.  This means devoting hundreds of hours of their own time to building their new home, while further participating in construction efforts on other Habitat projects in their area.
  • The ability to repay an affordable mortgage is a must. 
  • Applicants are screened and chosen based upon the above criteria by a local Habitat selection committee.

Volunteers partnering with Habitat include builders, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, bricklayers, carpet installers, and more.  These individuals not only donate their valuable services locally, but sometimes travel to other communities where Habitat operates.  For example, when a natural disaster strikes teams from Habitat for Humanity oftentimes can be found in the impacted area helping the locals rebuild.  Habitat offices are currently located within all 50 states and in every Canadian province.  ReStores also exist in numerous U.S. cities and towns which, as aforementioned, serve to raise money for future home building and remodeling projects. 

Many construction and building suppliers also donate their goods to Habitat, much like North Star Stone began doing recently.   Tools, building materials, cleaning supplies, equipment, machinery, and even trucks are needed to fuel Habitat’s daily efforts.  Companies or individuals also contribute appliances, furniture and housewares to support Habitat endeavors.  Planning for building projects within a given locality is done under the watchful eye of paid Habitat coordinators.   At this point the organization is entering the final year of its Habitat for Humanity Strategic Plan 2014-2018 with its motto of: “a world where everyone has a decent place to live”.

How Our Stone Veneer is Beautifying Habitat Homes

Starting in November of 2017, North Star Stone proudly began donating some of our high-quality manufactured stone veneer products to the Habitat branch in Lake County, IL.  These faux stone products are typically used as decorative enhancements by residential and commercial property owners for applications from fireplaces to home exteriors.  We recognize that Habitat not only believes in everyone living in an affordable, safe and decent home, but further that they strive to build houses that are attractive, energy-efficient and accessible.  Our manufactured stone siding solutions work well to serve Habitat’s structural objectives.

North Star Stone has so far donated over 1400 square feet of custom stone veneer that’s being used to beautify the exteriors and interiors of several Habitat-built properties around Chicago.  We’ve learned that since 1989 Habitat for Humanity Lake County has provided over 200 families with affordable and reliable housing outcomes.  North Star Stone will continue to partner with Habitat by providing our manufactured stone veneer products to support those efforts.  Get a free estimate or learn more about our custom stone veneer products here. 

Get Your Stone Fireplace Ready For Fall!

Get Your Stone Fireplace Ready For Fall!

Stone Fireplace

Fall is here and if you want to add some decor to your fireplace, you have a lot of different options available to you. The fireplace is an area of the home that is generally decorated with the current season in mind. Even if you do not decorate at all during the rest of the year, fall is the best time of year to do it because during the colder, winter months, your fireplace is a key focal point in your home. You may be enjoying several cozy nights by the fire in the next few months and you want your fireplace to look the best it can be all season long.

Incorporate Fall Colors

The easiest way you can decorate for fall is by using some traditional fall colors. You should look for decorations that feature some darker and muted oranges, yellow, red, and more. Essentially, fall colors are colors you would see on trees that are changing colors so you should look for items that feature these colors. It should not be very difficult during this time of year as decor featuring these colors will be everywhere you would normally shop for decor.


There’s tons of places you can find beautiful decor for your fireplace this fall. Some of our favorites are listed below:

Amazon! Of course! Amazon has some great deals right now on fireplace decor for the upcoming holidays.

World Market- They have some great finds from all over the world. Priced well, World Market has up to date styles, beautiful unique finds and so much more. If you look in the sidebar of this article, you’ll find a link with a 10% off coupon!

Home Goods – Always a good go-to for home decor items, HomeGoods has just about anything and everything you could ever need. If you don’t mind waiting in line for a while, you can save some serious dough on your new fireplace goodies!

And Last But Not Least:

At Home – There’s one in Schaumburg, and we swear- when you enter this massive home discount store, you will not want to leave. You’ll get sucked into the beautiful, discount vortex of AtHome, and never, ever want to leave. You name it, and they have it. Everything from flowers and floral decor to lighting and pictures, this store literally has everything you would ever need to make your stone fireplace beautiful. Good luck getting out of the store in less than an hour!

Focus on the Holidays

If you like to celebrate any holidays during the fall and early winter, you may want to try decorating specifically for these holidays. For example, if you celebrate Halloween or Diwali, you may want to put out some holiday specific items during this time. You can easily do this by adding a few small and subtle pumpkins for Halloween or even adding some fake spider webs. It does not have to be overwhelming unless you want it to be. Feel free to go all out if you want to or just add some basic fall colors, as mentioned before, and then a few items that hint towards the holiday.

Bring the Outside In

One of the best things about fall is that there are so many outdoor activities that you can do with your family. You may want to go to a pumpkin patch, through a corn maze, or simply on a nice fall walk through your local nature trails. You may spend a lot of great time in the crisp, fall air but that does not mean that your time outside has to end there. Many people actually bring some outside items inside their home for decoration. Not only is this inexpensive but it can also look great. Some examples of this would be bringing in some pine cones, gourds, pumpkins, and more. You also have options when it comes to these items. You can place them on your fireplace mantel for decoration as is or you can spray paint them a fall color or even a subtle gold for even more of a pop.

Don’t Forget the Stone Fireplace Hearth

When decorating your fireplace, it can be easy to only focus on the mantle at the top but you should not forget about the hearth. You can do something simple and elegant to bring the entire decoration idea together. Whether you want to put a fireplace screen that has some hints of fall design in front of the opening or you want to add some fall vases with plants, real or fake, you can really tie everything together in an elegant and classic fall way.

Your fireplace is a main focal point in your home, especially when the temperatures drop outside. Using these tips, you can ensure it is not an eyesore but an area of your home that you can be proud of.

Regardless of how you decide to decorate your stone fireplace, we can help you make it gorgeous with the addition of new stone veneer for your fireplace. With hundreds of styles and colors to choose from, our stone can breathe new life into your old fireplace. We can often update it in less than 3 days, with very little mess, and incredibly talented masons who will leave you with a gorgeous new fireplace that your friends and family will rave about. Get a free estimate today for updating your fireplace with our custom stone veneer and see how we can help you make your fireplace the focal point of the room it was meant to be!

Favorite Fall Stone Veneer Fireplaces:

Donations & Volunteer Work Help Hurricane Victims Rebuild

Donations & Volunteer Work Help Hurricane Victims Rebuild

Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

Before hurricanes Harvey and Irma this summer, 2005’s Hurricane Katrina was the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history according to CNN Money. Flooding and ripping up the Gulf Coast, CNN reports, Katrina created what would amount to $160 billion in damages today for America alone.

CNN Money notes that financial losses from Harvey and Irma may reach about $200-290 billion dollars. What part of that figure will flow from rebuilding homes, businesses and infrastructure is unknown.

All of us can help minimize damages through donations to charitable organizations helping Houston, the Gulf Coast, Florida and other southeastern states.

What to Give

The logistics of storing construction supplies or other goods — such as clothing, food and water — is challenging following a natural disaster. Relief experts and journalists who have covered many natural disasters say it is best to contribute money in the immediate aftermath of such events.

First-responder charities are on the ground immediately after a disaster. They provide basic emergency and rescue services, including medical care and evacuation. Charities that help with rebuilding structures will arrive later when it is possible to begin work.

If you do plan to donate construction materials or other goods, such as clothing or food, be sure to talk with the charity involved about what is needed. Many non-profits do not accept clothing or shoes because they often get an influx of them and often have a difficult time sorting, cleaning and storing these items. So always call ahead and ask what supplies a non-profit is collecting.

At North Star Stone, we are organizing a donation of stone veneer to Habitat for Humanity Lake County. These supplies will likely be used here in the Chicagoland area, but we are looking into other options for donating to help hurricane victims repair and rebuild their homes. Habitat will be able to use our stone veneer to update stone fireplaces and add stone siding on HFH homes locally.

Choosing a Helpful Charity

To make sure your contributions help where intended, access a charity rating service online. CharityWatch, GuideStar and Charity Navigator are organizations that evaluate the efficiency and helpfulness of many kinds of charities based on a wide array of factors. It’s easy to access ratings at the websites of all three.

Habitat for Humanity, SBP USA and All Hands Volunteers are examples of charities that have solid ratings on all three websites.

Habitat allows donors to designate where their cash contributions should be applied. You don’t need to be a construction professional to swing a hammer or help with other rebuilding tasks on Habitat projects. However, check with the branch where you hope to volunteer to find out what openings and skills are needed. Churches often form Habitat teams of including volunteers of varying skill levels. Check with local congregations to see which ones are planning construction mission trips to disaster areas.

All three organizations help train volunteers on the job. But don’t show up at one of their worksites without applying to volunteer and receiving an assignment. Self-deploying to a disaster area can be chaotic and dangerous. It may also slow work teams.

Rebuilding is a slow process. However, SBP USA, which cut its teeth on helping the Gulf Coast rebuild post-Katrina, learned how to speed up its projects from auto manufacturer Toyota. SBP has shared the process with other relief charities, including Habitat.

Lending a Hand Internationally

Late August through mid-September 2017 will be remembered as a time of unparalleled hurricane destruction internationally. Hurricane Irma created tremendous damage throughout the Caribbean before making landfall in Southwest Florida. Hurricane Katia almost simultaneously walloped the east coast of Mexico shortly after a massive earthquake. At publication time, we’re hoping Hurricane Jose will continue winding down away from land in the Atlantic.

Both Habitat and the UK-based All Hands Volunteers help rebuild communities worldwide following calamities as do all the charitable organizations listed in this 2016 ThoughtCo. article about disaster relief organizations. There are also many smaller non-profits that are helping Hurricane victims that may be accepting donations of money and supplies, as well as looking for volunteers to help rescue, clean and rebuild after these disasters. Stay tuned and we will be updating this post with local charities that need help and are providing help to hurricane victims.

So, lend a hand at home or lend a hand internationally. Together we can fix what is broken one nail, one stroke of paint and one piece of stone at a time.



Best Budget Stores For Home Renovation In Chicago

Best Budget Stores For Home Renovation In Chicago

Home Improvements Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

You don’t have to wear a tool belt to be a do-it-yourself home improvement artist. Being great at the logistics of locating discount materials is a crucial skill in completing projects at lower cost. And it leaves room in your budget for hiring pros whether carpenters or stone veneer masons.

Here are some useful local companies for budget renovation in metro Chicago communities. We’ve included store addresses and phone numbers to make shopping easier.

Flooring & Carpet

Home Owners Bargain Outlet

Crest Hill, 1693 South Plainfield Road, (815) 730-8340

Oak Lawn, 8716 South Cicero Avenue, (708) 423-4656

Waukegan, 2650 Belvedere Road, (847) 263-1612

Villa Park, 300 North Avenue, (630) 833-3200

HOBO’s outlet stores offer top deals on solid surface flooring, including tiles from ceramic to granite and hardwoods.  Persist and you can find a great deal.


Floor & Decor

Arlington Heights, 600 East Rand Road, (847) 704-7071

Aurora, 307 South Route 59, (630) 449-1255

Lombard, 1000 North Rohlwing Road, (630) 613-1597

Skokie, 3300 Oakton St, (847) 983-2987

Countryside, 1 Countryside Plaza, (708) 937-1325

Gurnee Mills, 6100 West Grand Avenue, (847) 672-2023

Looking for a discount on laminate or vinyl flooring? Do you want to consider good prices on hardwood or many kinds of tile and stone finishes? You’ll find lots of choices here.


Rexx Rug

Chicago, 3312 North Lincoln Avenue, (773) 281-8800

Discover area rugs and wall-to-wall carpeting from berbers to plushes at Rexx Rug. Enjoy free cookies as well as hundreds of flooring choices at their warehouse sales. Rexx also sells engineered and solid hardwood flooring.



Home Owners Bargain Outlet


HOBO sells a broad range of discounted building supplies, including cabinets for kitchens and bathrooms. We listed all the locations above.


Builder Supply Outlet


Broadview, 2171 West Cermak Road, (708) 343-3900

In addition to in-stock kitchen cabinets at prices up to 60 percent off retail, Builder Supply sells a broad range of construction materials for DIYers, including countertops, doors, windows and flooring.





Bloomingdale, 279 Madsen Drive (the company’s outlet location), (630) 529-7600

Lincolnshire, 725 Milwaukee Avenue, (847) 478-1900

Old Orchard, 4999 Old Orchard Center, (847) 675-9400

South Barrington, 100 West Higgins Road, (847) 783-1500

Wheaton, 303 East Front Street, (630) 668-7878

Toms-Price sells furniture at discount for all rooms in your home and for all tastes.




Chicago, 4433 North Ravenswood Avenue, (773) 728-3497

Nadeau’s motto is “furniture with a soul.” If you are searching for unique tables, seating, shelving and storage from around the world, this is the location for great deals.





Chicago (Lincoln Park), 800 West North Avenue, (312) 787-8329

If you want a hip, modern look at affordable prices, try Crate and Barrel’s CB2. You’ll find everything that is sleek and simple — from tubular outdoor furniture to minimalist dishware designs.




Fox Lighting Galleries


Chicago, 4240 West Lawrence Avenue, (773) 282-6300

Whether you’re looking for chandeliers, lighted ceiling fans or floor lamps Fox offers a broad array of choices at budget prices. The company’s website provides prices as well as product details for all its lighting.


Stone Veneer


North Star Stone


Libertyville, 1840 Industrial Drive, (847) 996-6850

Are you in the market for a new stone fireplace or a fireplace update? We offer well-priced materials and installation at North Star Stone, and invite you to make an appointment to visit our Libertyville showrooms. If you want to add distinguished looking stone exterior siding options to your Chicago metro home — from façade to garden walls — we can help you achieve the look you want within a reasonable budget. Contact NorthStar today for the kind of fireplace renovation Chicago residents love or any kind of stone siding project.

5 Tips Your Realtor May Not Tell You About Selling a Home

5 Tips Your Realtor May Not Tell You About Selling a Home

Stone Exteriors Stone Fireplace

Remember when you were little and had your first tooth pulled? Probably your mom or dad told you that the dentist would make it painless with Novocain. Then you saw the unexpected needle coming and discovered novo-pain.

Daily life is full of surprises that arise because someone fails to tell us something. Thunderbolts of bewilderment may even strike when you are in the process of selling your home, because your realtor fails to share the following tips.

Ask for a Short Contract

One reason why people say “locked in” when forming a contract with a realtor is because it can feel like you are serving time if the relationship sours. This may happen, for example, if your property stays on the market so long you must lower the sale price.

You may begin to doubt whether the realtor priced your property correctly or is doing enough to market it.

Consequently, when your realtor suggests a contract of six months or longer, be brave. Ask for something shorter, such as a standard minimum of 90 days. In tight markets favoring sellers, you may want to ask for even less.

Help Write Your Listing

You know your home and neighborhood best. You may also know how to write better than your realtor. So, offer to help compose or proofread the real estate listing for your home’s sale. This probably isn’t something your realtor would emphasize, but you can put the extra touches on it that your realtor just may not be able to.

Expect Unexpected Costs

No realtor can predict all the costs that will arise when selling your home, such as a bathtub refinishing job that leads to a subcontractor’s pitch for a far more expensive bathroom remodel or any of the hundreds of things that could come up in a home inspection.

Work together with your realtor to estimate how much you can afford to spend on these unexpected costs prior to listing. The budget will depend on a break-even calculation. Beware of anyone who suggests you can break even based on a sale price that meets your equity. To avoid being in the red, the sale price also should cover home improvement expenditures and myriad closing costs.

Invest in Stone Veneer Versus a Bathroom

Now to get back to the bathroom makeover: It’s true that buyers are attracted to homes with new bathrooms. Yet that improvement may not provide the greatest value versus investment.

It’s your wallet, so pay attention to payback. One valuable tool is Remodel magazine’s annual Cost Vs Value Report, which provides statistics about what you can expect to gain financially from investment in a wide range of remodeling projects.

The report divides the nation into regions. Illinois is part of the East North Central Region where payback for a bathroom remodel this year is 57% of cost. In contrast, the addition of stone siding returns 79%. 79%!!!! That’s pretty awesome. We’re a little biased, but we think you should consider updating your fireplace or your home exterior over your bathroom.

Stone veneer exterior siding options are lighter weight than full stone construction yet provide the same distinguished look. Mom was right — first impressions matter.

Don’t Nap Before a Showing

One thing nobody ever tells you is how intensely exhausting it can be to sell a home, which must shine for showing at all times.

Aside from tiring of 24/7 cleaning, you may feel overwhelmed by constantly packing up all evidence of habitation, including your cranky toddler and pets.

Your realtor probably never warned you it is a big, big mistake to set your alarm clock and lay down for a quick catnap even two hours before a showing. You may wake up to strangers who discover you, the baby and Fido snoozing on the couch. No sale!

Think About Staying Put

Once your stone exterior is in place and you’ve further indulged in the kind of equally distinguished stone fireplace renovation Chicago homes deserve, you may want to drop the idea of selling and take a nap without interruptions.

In all seriousness, selling a home can be very stressful. Making sure you’ve taken the time to do your homework, and have an open line of communication with your realtor can really benefit you in the long term. If you’re in the process of getting your home ready to sell, and are looking at making some quick updates that will increase your home’s value, consider adding stone veneer to your home’s exterior or updating your fireplace. That 79% return on updating your siding with stone veneer can really pay off.

If you need an estimate for your stone siding, we’re here for you! Give us a call or send us a message here. And did we mention we’re fast? We can update a fireplace in as little as 2 days! If you’re in a hurry to sell, and still want to make some quick updates to your home’s siding or fireplace, we can work with you to get it done quickly- and beautifully. Our stone helps homes sell!

10 Ways To Give Your Home Some Curb Appeal

10 Ways To Give Your Home Some Curb Appeal

Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

Strolling daily in your neighborhood you may begin noticing improvements that friends and neighbors are making to their homes, including:

  • Repainting house trim
  • Cleaning brick or siding
  • Reroofing due to damaged shingles
  • Repairing or replacing driveways
  • Changing the landscaping in significant ways and
  • Just generally tidying the front yard by mowing, sweeping, trimming trees and bushes, and filling planters with colorful flowers.

As you gradually absorb all this change and note what you like, you may begin to wonder about the curb appeal of your own home. What can you do to make it look better even if you don’t plan on selling anytime soon?

10 Home Makeover Ideas

When you start thinking about improving street appeal, your improvement list may become long. You can avoid feeling overwhelmed by making one change at a time. Here are some suggestions.

1. Photograph your front façade and yard. Analyze what is strong and what needs improvement. Apply a critical eye to tidiness, features obviously needing upkeep or replacement, paint color and possibilities for improvement with new landscaping and hardscaping.

2. Power wash your house but be careful about damaging brick and mortar. High-pressure spraying of a home’s façade makes it sparkle by removing dirt, mildew and moss. High-pressure cleaning is best left to a professional who knows how to avoid moisture damage. But lightly spraying your house with a garden hose before scrubbing off debris may do the trick and is probably best for brick siding. Pressure cleaning can decay mortar and old brick.

3. Clean and repair gutters. Sagging gutters with broken bands and loose downspouts look forlorn. Regular cleanout of leaves and other debris avoids this problem. If you plan to attach a downspout to a rain barrel in the front yard, one topped with a planter may be the best choice.

4. Reroof if necessary. Are shingles coming loose or looking worn, and is the roof visible from the street? Roof damage not only puts the interior of your house at risk but also signals viewers that you aren’t keeping up your property. Spot repairs sometimes are sufficient, but it may be time for a new roof.

5. Decide whether new paint is necessary and what colors would be best. Repainting trim and siding makes a home sparkle. While out walking, look for color combinations that fit your neighborhood and appeal to you. Sometimes just repainting a front door with a stand-out color and adding large, shiny address numbers may be enough to give your home a new look.

6. Improve yard maintenance, including trimming trees, weeding and mowing. A neglected landscape makes viewers think the interior of a home may also need significant repair.

7. Re-landscape. Even if you’re great about maintenance, a boring landscape makes a home look blah. If you can’t afford a landscaper, creative websites may help with planning. Try eGardenGo for suggestions about plant combinations and Paper Garden Workshop for planning tools, including “doodle sheets.”

8. Build a berm or a raised bed with a stone veneer wall. Berms add shape and texture to yards. So do exterior siding options such as a stone fireplace or stone exterior retaining wall.

9. Repair or replace your driveway. Repairing driveway cracks, potholes and heaving adds polish to a home and communicates that you value it.

10. Add exterior stone siding for an upscale, rustic look. According to Remodeling’s 2017 Cost Vs Value Report, stone veneer is one of the top home improvement choices for recouping cost when selling.

The Wow Look

As you plan ways to make your home look sharp and sweet, keep in mind that what looks “wow” in one community may elicit “whoa!” elsewhere. Remodeling magazine seems to indicate that homeowners nationwide think stone looks stylish. Please contact us at North Star Stone for information about how we add wow to homes.



10 Things to Look for In a Contractor When Remodeling

10 Things to Look for In a Contractor When Remodeling

Stone Exteriors Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

Saving money for a home remodeling takes time and requires restraint in spending. So, when you get ready to launch your project, you don’t want it to turn into a remuddling due to selecting the wrong professionals to guide the work.

Depending on the size and complexity of the project, you may need to begin with an architect who not only can design the project but also provide referrals to reliable contractors.

How to select an architect is a topic for another day. What we’re suggesting here is that you’ll be happier with a remodeling if you ask yourself key questions about what to look for in a contractor and interview at least three before hiring. 

What a Contractor Does

Contractors generally aren’t designer although construction companies may have in-house designers. Instead, your contractor is the overall supervisors for your project. Their duties include:

  • Selecting sub-contractors, such as carpenters, electricians and plumbers
  • Overseeing all aspects of construction
  • Maintaining the work schedule you have approved
  • Handling payouts for materials and labor
  • Being responsible for meeting deadlines and
  • Ensuring that worksites are safe and tidy at the end of the day (especially important if you continue to live in the house during construction).

You may decide that you also want your architect to provide project management (an extra fee beyond design) aimed at making sure work proceeds correctly based on the design and materials specified in the design plans.

10 Key Questions to Consider

Here are some important issues to think about before selecting a contractor.

1. Are you hiring the contractor to be a designer as well as a project supervisor? If so, research the contractor’s design credentials and experience.

2. Do you have friends, neighbors or coworkers who can recommend contractors? Praise from someone you trust is valuable. Ask them specific questions about what went right or wrong with their projects. Negative feedback may help you to avoid hiring the wrong person or construction company.   

3. If you are relying on online recommendations, how trustworthy are these testimonials? Consider whether you or someone you know has found reliable help for other projects through these sources.

4. If an architect has designed your project, does the architect recommend any of your favored contractors? A contractor your designer respects is likely to be one on whom you can rely.

5. Does a contractor have a reputation for meeting deadlines and keeping the worksite safe?  This is a question to ask whoever provides referrals.

6. Is the contractor bonded, licensed and known for providing a well-detailed contract? Once again, ask those who provide referrals and then verify with the contractor. Also, insist on a detailed contract.

7. During the interview process, does a contractor answer your questions in an authoritative (not authoritarian) way? Your contractor should be able to answer your questions without forcing opinions on you.

8. Is a contractor able to provide referrals from former customers? If not, check the contractor off your list.

9. Is a contractor comfortable knowing that you will be interviewing others as well? If a contractor is experienced and knowledgeable, he or she will also be confident enough to accept competition.

10. Does a contractor have experience specific to your project, such as stone veneer work? A stone veneer contractor in the Chicago metro area will have experience with these kinds of projects:

The “Click Factor”

Finally, after each contractor interview, there is a certain gut-feeling factor to consider. You have to ask yourself how comfortable you were. Did the two of you “click” by communicating well? Do you think the contractor understands your project needs and can fulfill them?

Interviewing shouldn’t be rushed. You need to be patient and so does each interviewee. A prospective contractor who is willing to answer all your questions so you can make a well-informed decision is one who is likely to be a good communicator during construction.

North Star Stone is proud to say we meet all of these qualifications as a stone veneer contractor. We value our customers, their homes and their business and are always happy to explain the process and answer any questions you have. If you have questions you’d like to ask about stone veneer design for your stone fireplace or exterior stone siding, call us at (847) 996-6850 or contact us here and get a FREE estimate.